Dinsey has taken a different approach to brand new film Cruella than it has to most of its recent live-action updates – with the film acting as a prequel to 101 Dalmatians rather than a remake.

The movie takes us back to Cruella de Vil's younger days – when she was but an aspiring fashionista – and attempts to explain what went so wrong in order for her to end up as such an unforgivably wicked puppy skinner.

It includes one or two references to the original film, of course, including a key moment in the post-credits scene – read on for everything you need to know about the film's ending and how it sets up 101 Dalmatians.

Cruella ending explained

After being kicked out of school and witnessing the death of her mother in a Dalmatian-related accident, the film follows Cruella – or Estella as she is then known – as she aims to carve out a career in the fashion industry, which she manages with a little help from her faithful friend Jasper.

Although her time in the industry gets off to a rocky start working odd jobs at Liberty's, Estella (Emma Stone) manages to impress bigwig fashion designer Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson) when she visits the department store and is taken on as a protege.

Their relationship sours, however, when Estella notes that the Baroness is wearing a necklace that she believed had belonged to her mother – and she soon finds out that von Hellman herself had been responsible for the death, deliberately ordering her Dalmatians to push her off a cliff.

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This prompts Estella to create her new ruthless Cruella persona, with which she hopes to take the Baroness' place as the number one fashion designer in London.

The twist comes when Estella is visited by John (Mark Strong), the Baroness' long-time valet. He breaks some shocking news to her – that the Baroness is actually Estella's real mother, and he had been instructed to get rid of her shortly after she was born, which led him to give her to the laundrywoman Catherine, who then raised her as her own.


At this point, Cruella decided its time for proper revenge (and to be honest, who can blame her?): she frames the Baroness for the murder of Estella, by tempting her to shove her off the same cliff that her mother had fallen from all those years ago.

She's prepared, though, and has built a parachute into her dress – meaning she can sneakily escape and live her life entirely as Cruella, while the Baroness is imprisoned for the murder of Estella.

Then we have the post-credits scene. Here, Cruella sends a Dalmatian each to her acquaintances Roger (Kayvan Novak) and Anita (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), who you might notice are named after two vital characters from the original.

Those puppies' names will also be familiar – Pongo and Perdita – meaning that these are the very same dogs that would go on to meet and set the events of 101 Dalmatians in motion. (Why Cruella would send these dogs away only to later steal their puppies is not explained – surely it would have made more sense just to breed lots of puppies herself?)

Anyway, while the film doesn't set up a sequel as such, it does directly set up 101 Dalmatians – albeit in a rather convoluted manner.

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Cruella is released in cinemas and on Disney Plus Premier Access on 28th May 2021. You can sign up to Disney Plus now for £79.90 for a year or £7.99 a month.Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide, our best movies on Disney Plus and best shows on Disney Plus guides. Visit our Movies hub for all the latest news.